A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: Manager and musician, friends and sometimes lovers, come to a near breaking point only to discover they cannot live without the other.
Blurb: Having moved out east, Matt and Adam have renovated the big old house they bought, turning it into The Briar Rose, a BDSM B&B. With Adam’s experience as a professional sub and Matt’s patience and knowledge, they hope to help other couples find their way in the BDSM lifestyle. Their first guests are Jackson and Burger, a well-known singer and his manager. The couple are not exactly what Adam and Matt expect, but they do what they can to help the other men learn to communicate and find trust. Singer Jackson has just had an operation on his vocal chords and has been ordered not to speak for at least two weeks, something he’s having a hard time doing. Burger brings Jackson to the Briar Rose in the hopes of not only keeping the singer resting and quiet, but in rekindling their on-again-off-again love affair and making it on-again, permanently. Can they find what they need at The Briar Rose? Matt and Adam first appeared in Sold, a Hammer novel, and are the foundation for the new Briar Rose series by Sean Michael.
Review: Once again this is the case where the blurb has given you a better summary than I ever could. So let’s dive into the deep end here and talk about what worked and what got left behind on the playroom floor of the novel, Hoarse Play.
When author Sean Michael puts pen to paper and decides to write raw emotion, subs finding acceptance of their role, Doms coming into their own and realizing love and respect for their sub–well magic tends to happen and Hoarse Play is by no means an exception.
Jackson and Burger are on again/off again friends with benefits. In between Jackson self-implodes on drugs, booze and mindless sex and Burger melts down with one temper flare up after another. Needless to say, communication is not high on the list for this couple. So it is a stroke of genius that the most effective communication that will occur between these two men will take place when one cannot speak at all.
Due to overwork and abuse, Jackson’s throat is done in and a much needed surgery has left him hoarse and in dire need of rest. Burger has decided that two weeks at a BDSM B&B is the place to be.
And here is where a five star novel dropped to a four. The author never explains why–why a BDSM inn?? I mean, quite frankly, these two guys had plenty to work out relationship-wise without throwing in something they have never discussed much less tried–BDSM. And, honestly, Michael’s opted to never really explain why they ended up there.
That rather important and lacking plot point left me shaking my head through much of the book–especially since the B&B owners did not understand why Jackson and Burger were there either. From the beginning of this novel, it is explained that this is a last ditch effort for Burger to make Jackson see that they should be together.
So why add the element of BDSM to the list when their emotional plate was already full? The whole question hung there for the duration of the novel–and never really got resolved. This, to me, was a major flaw. Then, came the next element that simply left me scratching my head in confusion.
Here was a couple who were just beginning to experiment with spanking, and using a gag (mainly to keep Jackson quiet) and all of a sudden there was fisting. No, I am not going to explain fisting. Please go look it up if you don’t know what I am speaking about. However, needless to say, it is a pretty big sexual exchange and it really did not ring true that these two men would know how to do it safely much less do it with seemingly no qualms. I mean Jackson could barely wrap his mind around a spanking but he was okay with fisting?? No, that was way over the top for me.
So…what did work and why the four stars? Well, let’s go back to those opening paragraphs. Sean Michael is a pro at writing both believable and (quite frankly) beautiful emotional angst and love. I fell in love with Jackson and Burger–they were vulnerable, wounded and so very much in love with each other–yet bent on denying themselves and their love.
As their story unfolded, we watched as excuse after excuse fell way and like the peeling of an onion, we finally got to the tender center and watched love bloom and heal and replace all the excuses that kept these two men from connecting.
The story was never slow or plodding but nicely paced and their moment from bickering estranged lovers to partners was convincing and compelling to watch. The side story of B&B owners Adam and Matt provided a backdrop of what a fully meshed BDSM couple looked like and gave us hope that Burger and Jackson would eventually morph into one as well.
Dear Reader, Hoarse Play is at its core a delightful story of healing and redemption and love and I encourage you to pick it up and give it a go. I do think that even the most wary among us will find that this BDSM novel dwells more on the gentle expression of slightly kinky love rather than the sometimes overwhelming explanation of the mechanics involved. However, lest it seem I am cracking the whip–I shall leave the choice to you.